Recruitment picks up for Canes

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Cartersville High senior slot receiver Antoine Jefferson was in his room late one night last week working on a paper for lit class, trying to get the assignment done before midnight. While undoubtedly feeling the pressure of the late deadline, he got a major relief when he received a text message from a coach at the University of the Cumberlands.

Jefferson was notified that he had earned his first college football scholarship offer, and with that text message, Jefferson’s football future and college prospects suddenly appeared a lot brighter.

Senior outside linebacker Trevor Lowe got his first Division I offer from Furman last week, and on Wednesday night, he committed to play for the Paladins.

For both Lowe and Jefferson, getting that first offer provides some clarity as to what the future holds after graduation.

“I was excited. All the hard work that you’ve put in, it was very unexpected just because I’m always hard on myself,” Lowe said of receiving his first Division-I offer before he committed. “And from that offer, three other schools contacted me right after that and said, ‘Hey, send us your film.’ So I’m excited to see what else happens.”

There has been an incalculable number of college coaches walking through the doors of Cartersville High the last two years. And while many have come to see the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2018, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, or have come to see Minnesota commit Trey Creamer and Wake Forest commit Avery Showell, there are several other Canes who have been drawing interest.

“We’ve had some guys pick up some offers that have gotten them earlier as opposed to later, and we’re going to sign more this year,” head coach Joey King said. “The same amount of folks are coming through that have been coming through, which is good. We just got a couple of more kids that are getting attention, and that part is great.”

In addition to Jefferson and Lowe, senior defensive lineman Brandon Wade picked up an offer from the Cumberlands. He, along with Lowe, added their offers last week to pre-existing offers from Pikeville.

Senior outside linebacker Sean Holton has an offer from NCAA Division II Tusculum and three Division-I offers from Davidson, Morehead State and Stetson. Senior cornerback Trase Fezzia received an offer from Miami (Ohio) in the offseason as well.

Wade was recently invited to play in the Florida vs. Georgia Clash of Scholar Athletes All-Star Game in Florida. In addition to his two scholarship offers, he has visited Kennesaw State four times and has been in contact with Alcorn State, Kansas Wesleyan, Georgia Southern and Mercer. Wade and Jefferson will visit the Cumberlands sometime after Christmas Break.

For Lowe, the offer from Furman was unexpected. He was sitting in class when a coach from the Paladins followed him on Twitter. Cartersville wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Antwan Toomer told him to send film, and the Furman coaching staff was impressed enough to extend an offer. He is now the third current Cane to commit.

Since he was offered, he received interest from three more schools in the Southern Conference—Mercer, Samford and The Citadel. He visited Furman on Nov. 5 and was scheduled to visit Mercer this weekend before committing.

“I actually talked to [Furman recruiting coordinator Mark] Moehring [Monday] night and we had a good conversation,” Lowe said. “I’ve kept in touch with him. Furman is the biggest school that has offered me, and that school is absolutely beautiful. The facilities are nice, great academically.”

Holton has been in contact with Davidson the most, and said the school is the frontrunner right now.

While there is more urgency for the seniors, Cartersville has several juniors who are on the radars of college programs as well. Receivers E.J. Turner, T.J. Horton and JKobe Orr, along with Wade and Lawrence, went to Sanford Stadium Saturday for the Georgia-Auburn game. The three junior receivers also have been to LSU and will go to Tennessee this weekend.

Toomer expects to see movement with those players in the coming weeks and after the season, but he also is looking for seniors Xavior Coaxum, Fezzia and Torrian Scrutchins, as well as junior Darian Poellnitz, to have their recruitments pick up.

Of course, junior Jonathan Cruz is one of the highest-rated kicker recruits in the country, and he has already been in contact with several schools, even though recruitment for kickers tends to come later.

“Some schools have emailed me, told me to go to their camp to see how I was doing. Some schools have been getting in contact and asking for some film,” Cruz said. “Georgia talked to me a couple of times. Purdue has talked to me and Louisiana Monroe has talked to me. ... No [kickers] in my class have really gotten offered yet, so hopefully, I’ll be one of the first to get offered.”

Cartersville also has some underclassmen garnering interest, including freshman quarterback Tee Webb, who was offered by Louisville as a seventh-grader, and sophomore tight end Jackson Lowe. Lowe has been invited to two prestigious all-star games, the True 19 Georgia vs. Texas Sophomore Showdown and the Georgia Elite Classic.

While there is plenty of talent at Cartersville, academics are always a consideration in recruitment. King said the Canes are taking steps to ensure their talent is eligible to play in college.

“We’ve been working. The second year we were here, we did an SAT prep course,” King said of the academic aspect of recruiting with his team. “Coach Toomer has done a good job. I hired him with the title of recruiting coordinator. I delegate a lot of the stuff to him as far as handling coaches. He’s getting them test prep books. He’s letting them know some of them get free waivers to take tests. He’s done a fantastic job since he’s been here.”